261960 An African American Health Paradox: What's driving high obesity rates in a high-income African American county?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 12:30 PM - 12:45 PM

Suzanne M. Randolph, PhD , Center for Community Prevention and Treatment Research, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Monica Holloway, BS , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Veronica G. Thomas, PhD , School of Education, Howard University, Washington, DC
Jennifer Noll Folliard, RD, MPH , Center for Health Policy and Legislative Analysis, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Obesity in the United States is a growing epidemic, and is a special health concern for African Americans. Social determinants such as lower income and lower education levels have typically been associated with higher rates of obesity.(1) However, a recent study of mid-life African American women in Washington, DC found an obesity paradox with no significant associations between socioeconomic indicators (income and education) and obesity.(2) Scant research examines employment and marital status in regards to obesity. This paper describes data analyzed to inform development of community-based participatory projects in a suburban jurisdiction neighboring DC--Prince George's County, MD which has one of the highest proportions of high income African Americans in the nation. This county's obesity rate (32%) is higher than the overall state average (27%) and US average (25%); and the county ranks 17 of 24 in the state's county health rankings.(3) BRFSS data revealed startling obesity paradoxes for four social determinants, with higher adult obesity rates for: higher income (vs. lower income), employed (vs. unemployed), married (vs. single), and higher educated (vs. less educated) residents. Data limitations did not permit gender comparisons. Additional research (including gender analyses) is vital to understanding these paradoxes and identifying other determinants driving African Americans' obesity. Implications are drawn for developing culturally competent, community-based obesity prevention/intervention initiatives for African Americans. (1)-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Overcoming Obstacles in Health, http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/obstaclestohealth.pdf. (2)-Gaston, M; Porter, G; Thomas, V. Paradoxes in Obesity with Mid-Life African American Women. http://www.nmanet.org/publications/January2011/OC17.pdf. (3)-County Health Rankings: 2011 Prince George's, Maryland http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/maryland/prince-georges

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1.Identify four ways in which the health data for African Americans in a suburban moderate income community show paradoxes in the social determinants of obesity rates. 2.Describe two implications of these health paradoxes for community-based participatory research methods for developing, implementing and evaluating culturally appropriate obesity interventions.

Keywords: African American, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I co-led the research of this project and have experience developing and evaluating culturally competent interventions for African Americans. I also lead the evaluation team for two initiatives that rely on these data analyses for development of systems-level interventions to address racial-ethnic disparities in obesity in Prince George's county and Washington, DC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.